Prospect Watch: Call-Up Catch-Up
We are entering that part of the season where a slew of players are being called up due to injury or ineffectiveness. The thing is, we’ve already pretty much blown through the top prospects, so now we’re on to the lesser known guys — the deep guys who don’t get discussed quite as frequently so maybe you’ve never heard their name or what to expect from them. Today we’re going to take a look at some of these guys and get a good idea of what kind of performance to expect from these rookies and whether or not a top prospect or two is worth your time.
Dustin Fowler – OF, Oakland Athletics
OK so you’ve probably heard of Dustin Fowler, but I want to talk about him anyway. He was finally recalled by the Oakland A’s after being in consideration to start the year on the major league team. We all know his story about getting called up last year only to blow out his knee in the field before taking a single at-bat, then missing the entire season. The health question marks were likely the only reason that Fowler ended up being sent down, as the A’s wanted to see if he could handle the rigors of playing center field every day.
The answer was a resounding yes as the young stud played 30 games and hit .310/.333/.484 with 3 homers and 8 steals in 132 plate appearances. For those keeping track at home, that translates to a 15 home run, 40 stolen base season. Finally Fowler gets the call to the majors and it’s likely to stay. And then Oakland bats him ninth. And then seventh. And then ninth again.
Between questionable trades and weird managerial decisions, Oakland is becoming a very bizarre, foolish organization. Despite being once lauded for being “ahead of the curve” and utilizing advanced statistics and ideas long before anyone else, the team is now just kind of… dumb.
That’s probably a bit harsh, and I understand the concept of letting a young player ease into the majors. But Fowler is 23, has immense talent, and deserves much better than hitting ninth in the order. He hasn’t done hardly anything in his 16 plate appearances so far in the bigs, but again he’s also batting ninth on a bad team. Once he starts hitting (and he will) get ready for a nice power-speed combo that even Bob Melvin won’t be able to keep down. There. Rant over so let’s move on.
Franmil Reyes – OF, San Diego Padres
Reyes was never exactly a top prospect. He didn’t appear on many (if any) top 100 prospect lists, and he wasn’t a guy that many valued immensely outside of deeper fantasy leagues. Which is fascinating to me because he has been growing into his insane raw power over the last few years. In 2016 he hit only 16 homers in 547 plate appearances in High-A. 2017 saw that number jump to 25 home runs in 566 plate appearances. And then this year in the minors he has slugged 14 bombs in only 154 plate appearances. Where will the power stop?!
Franmil never profiled to hit for a really high average, and his .258 mark from last season seems to be about what should be expected. Ignore the insane .346 mark he put up in Triple-A this year — the hit tool just isn’t that good. He walks just a tic below 10% of the time and the strikeouts have hovered just around 22% throughout his minor league career. If those numbers hold up and he does indeed hit .250 with even just last year’s power output, that should put the kid on your radar.
I sincerely doubt they called Reyes up to ride the pine, so I expect to see quite a bit of Franmil in the lineup. Apparently, Wil Myers’ oblique injury is likely going to keep him out until June, which gives Reyes another month or so to make his mark and cement himself as a regular in the lineup. I genuinely think he has a shot to do it.
Hunter Wood – P, Tampa Bay Rays
On one hand, it’s hard to get excited about a player the Rays are calling up before the super-two cutoff spot, simply because they are so notoriously tight with their money that they wouldn’t do so with a top prospect. On the other hand, there are some nice things in Wood’s profile that give him a bit of an underdog quality with some super deep league value.
Wood is a 24-year-old unheralded prospect who has started and come out of the bullpen in the past. The knock on him has always been his size, he’s 6-foot-1 and very scrawny. If he’s coming out of the ‘pen I don’t care, but as a starter that always makes you question his durability. Repertoire-wise, he uses a fastball that can reach 98, a good cutter, a show-me curve, and a changeup that needs some work. If everything worked out to its best for Wood, he could be a solid number three, but for now who knows what he’s going to provide. It all depends on what the Rays need out of him, and right now I’ll bet he gets shuffled around between the minors and the major league bullpen as they need arms.
You can’t expect much out of him, but now that he’s been called up there’s always a chance that with a few injuries he hits the rotation and throws some innings. I’ll take the under on 45 major league innings this season, but you never know for a guy like this. If the changeup develops he could become a valuable rotation piece. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Quick Hit: Clint Frazier – OF, New York Yankees
Though he’s no longer a prospect thanks to crossing his rookie threshold last year, Frazier getting the call was a bit surprising but pretty nice for his owners in dynasty leagues. Expectations were a bit lowered after he struggled last year in the majors and wasn’t quite as phenomenal in Triple-A. But this year in Triple-A Frazier tore the cover off the ball, hitting .362/.423/.702 with 3 homers and a steal in 52 plate appearances.
With most of the starting outfield already healthy and set, don’t expect much from Frazier off the bench. But if someone gets hurt he could get his opportunity to play. For now, he’s not worth grabbing in normal sized leagues unless you can stash him on your bench.